Penn Jillette

Magician/Actor

Jillette is the loud half of Penn & Teller. They perform their irreverent magic act regularly in Las Vegas.

Both are very outspoken about being atheists and skeptics and use it as part of the act.

Penn and Teller's cable series, Bullshit!, is now entering its third season on Showtime. Debunking claims of psychic ability and pseudoscience is the major theme. They occasionally challenge religion.

From January 2006 to March 2007 Penn could be heard on his hour-long radio show on CBS FREE FM which was heard in many major markets and also via podcast. His godlessness was a frequent topic. An archive of his radio shows can be found at http://www.pennfans.net

On November 21, 2005, NPR's Morning Edition featured Penn in an ongoing series titled "This I believe" based on a similar series from the 1950s. The rules required that the essayist state their position in the affirmative. Jillette did so cleverly by saying "I believe there is no God." mp3 version

In 2004 he authored a novel, Sock, in which godlessness is a major theme.

Penn was interviewed in The Onion (1999?):

[...]being pro-science is one of the oddest things you can do in show business. Which is very strange, because it was science that, oh, cured polio. I could list others--isn't that enough? [Laughs.] Oh, Western medicine doesn't work; I'm sorry, we cured polio. What more do you want? Your herbalism has done jack; we cured polio. And guess what? It cures polio even if you don't believe in it. We don't have it on Earth anymore. And then there's also small pox, and then there's mostly dysentery, and we haven't even gotten into the stuff we're good at, which is physics. We're not good at medicine; we're good at physics. We were good at physics in the 20th century; in the 21st century, one would hope, we'll be good at medicine. But we [Penn & Teller] are pro-science, and when you're pro-science, that means you're an atheist, by definition, because religion... No matter how much they put "10 Top Scientists Talk About Why They Believe In God" on the cover of TIME magazine, you kind of have to look and go, "How come these 10 top scientists are all teaching at community colleges?" Penn recounts a 1998 appearance on Donny and Marie Osmond's syndicated talkshow: We were asked to do autographs for Donny and Marie. I wrote, "There is no god," and Teller wrote, "He's right." http://www.pennfans.net/files/audio/Penn.Jillette.There.is.No.God.NPR.2005.11.21.mp3 In 1996, a contributor reports that Penn wears his "Team Satan 666" shirt everywhere. http://www.pennfans.net/files/audio/Penn.Jillette.There.is.No.God.NPR.2005.11.21.mp3 "Penn is such an ardent atheist he refuses to go to weddings" writes Joshua Quittner in a PJ profile in WIRED 2.09.

Tellere

Magician/Actor

Teller is the non-speaking half of Penn & Teller. They perform their irreverent magic act regularly in Las Vegas and major venues around the world.

Both guys are very outspoken about being atheists and skeptics. They use it as part of the act.

Teller was interviewed for the Summer 1998 issue of the New England Skeptics Society newsletter. Here's an excerpt:

NEJS - [Chris Carter, creator of the X-Files] said something in this article I'd like you to respond to: "I asked [Penn & Teller] if they believed in God, and they said no. And I asked: Do any scientists believe in God? And they said: 'None of the important ones.' I just found that somehow, I don't know, very disturbing. I think that the need to believe is, in fact, even with the most hardened atheist. I think that there must be at some point in their lives a need to at least search for some kind of personal answers for existence itself." I thought that was very interesting -- as if atheists aren't looking for some kind of personal answers for existence itself.

Teller - Atheists do look for answers to existence itself. They just don't make them up.

NEJS - Well, what do you think about that comment -- the need to believe being with even the most hardened atheist?

Teller - I think he's wrong. I might qualify as the most hardened atheist, and I have not the slightest need to believe in stuff that is not in some way verifiable. I believe in art, mind you. I don't believe that art is supernatural. I think that beauty and humor are wonderful things, and quite important to us -- in fact, one of the major distinguishing features between us and some of the lesser species. My mother, who is 89 now, says "Oh, you know, I see these old people going to church, and I really envy them. It must be so consoling for them to be able to believe in that stuff." (Laughs) I think she genuinely envies people who are suckers in the sense that there are some things that might be a little easier to confront. It's not going to change her point of view, because it doesn't make any sense to her. It seems like nonsense. And it is! (Laughs)[1]

Penn recounts a 1998 appearance on Donny and Marie Osmond's syndicated talkshow: We were asked to do autographs for Donny and Marie. I wrote, "There is no god," and Teller wrote, "He's right."